Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

So I think it’s safe to say summer is long gone.  With Halloween behind us, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye.  It’s already cold, cloudy, and depressing out.  Though I have managed to keep my winter coat in the closet so far, but we’ll see how long that lasts.  I’m surprised to say I haven’t even had much time to mourn summer.  It’s been crazy busy with writing, blogging, and trying to live life and have fun.  Plus, my farmers’ market has been pretty well stocked still.  Green beans and heirloom tomatoes in the first week of November?  Yes, please!

And there are some foods I buy year round.  We, for better or worse, live in a world where a lot of foods are in the grocery store every day of the year.  So my endless search for December peaches that actually taste like peaches might go unfulfilled, but there are typically a few cherries, strawberries are quite delightful, and so is zucchini.

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Okay, so zucchini might be an odd vegetable for me to crave year round, but I do.  I love it roasted, raw, and I adore baking with it.  I’ve made Zucchini Muffins, Carrot Zucchini Bread, and now Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream.  I bookmarked this recipe as soon as I saw it on Joanne’s site (if you missed her guest post here, go check it out!).

I used up some of the last of my farmers’ market zucchini making this cake and there was no better way to use it.  The cake is easy to make, dense, and moist with great zucchini flavor and crunchy walnuts.  Then it’s topped with a creamy buttercream enhanced with cinnamon and honey.  I don’t always care for American buttercream, but I found I kept tasting this, you know, just to make sure it was good :)   The honey and cinnamon really took it to the next level!  The cake is good by itself, but the frosting is a necessary addition, taking the cake over the top.  Maybe summer doesn’t have to end after all . . .

 Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 8 pieces

Ingredients

Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ heaping cups coarsely grated zucchini

¾ cup walnuts

Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ - 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves.

In a large bowl, stir together oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts until evenly distributed.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spread into an even layer and bake 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar, honey, and cinnamon until smooth and creamy. This may also be done in a stand mixer. Taste the frosting to see if it is sweet enough. I ended up using almost two cups of sugar to get the taste I wanted. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen in quarters, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others

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Oats and Honey Granola

Oats and Honey Granola

What’s up with this summer?  More days than not have barely been warm with cloud filled skies and an abundance of rain, including today.  I look forward to these few months all year and they’ve been a little lackluster.  Winter’s just around the corner – noooooooo!

Hopefully summer will kick back into gear soon.  At least a lot of the things I love about summer are still here, including flowers!  This year’s bunch may be better than ever, probably from all the rain.  The geraniums in the front yard took off like wild.  They make me smile every time I pass them.  There are also a record thirty-one pots filling our sidewalks and deck.  They are so pretty.  Some look very tropical.  The black petunias, elephant ear leaves, and all the morning glories are some of my favorites, but I really truly love them all, and I hope you enjoy a peek into my little slice of paradise.

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

I’m equally as obsessed with granola as I am flowers.  It’s all I crave lately, especially when combined with a smoothie.  This Oats and Honey Granola is a no frills, classic granola that I fell in love with after one bite.  It is a little sticky and clumpy from the honey and tastes somewhat like an oatmeal cookie, complete with that chewy texture.  The only add-ins I used were a few macadamia nuts.  Feel free to use whatever nuts you like or leave them out altogether.  This is a great, healthy, hearty, gluten free breakfast.  So take a little time to smell the intoxicating granola and of course the flowers.

Oats and Honey Granola

Oats and Honey Granola

 

Oats and Honey Granola

Prep Time:

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten free if you like – I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ cup macadamia nuts, optional

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, cinnamon, and nuts, if using, until combined. Add oil, honey, and vanilla and stir until all the oats are fully coated. Spread into an even layer on the prepared pan. It will be a thick layer.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown and fragrant. Cool completely on pan without stirring. Once cool break into clumps and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway!

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

This giveaway is CLOSED!!!  Congratulations to Barb on winning :)

A few years ago, I could take or leave peanut butter.  I’d eat a peanut butter cookie or peanut butter and jelly crackers on occasion, but I could live without it.  Lately, however, all I think about is peanut butter.  I crave it like crazy.  There are fancy Momofuku peanut butter cookies, flourless peanut butter cookies, puppy chow, easy to make fudge, Good Morning Sunshine Bars.  And sometimes I stir it into oatmeal or smear it on a banana.  My food life kind of revolves around peanut butter!

When I’m at the grocery store, I’ve been buying all different kinds.  Different brands, creamy, crunchy, natural, flavored, and of course, lots of peanuts to make my own.  I can’t put enough jars in my cart.  A few months ago, I saw Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter in the store and had to try it since I’ve heard so much about it.  It did not disappoint.  Their Smooth Operator creamy peanut butter is probably my favorite store bought peanut butter.  It’s super creamy, soft, and spreadable, but doesn’t separate like some peanut butters.  It’s also not loaded with not so yummy ingredients, which gives it a sweet peanut flavor that really just makes me happy.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

When I contacted Peanut Butter & Co. and they offered to allow me to try two of their peanut butters and give them away to one of you, my readers, I jumped at the chance.  There were a few hard decisions, though.  First I had to decide which of their flavors I wanted to try, then what I was going to make.  Decisions, decisions.

I settled on Crunch Time crunchy peanut butter and The Bee’s Knees peanut butter with a bit of honey.  They also were fantastic, the smell alone enough to make me grab a spoon and dig in!  And I chose to make Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread.  It took a couple of tries to perfect, but now this is without a doubt the best banana bread I’ve ever had!  I couldn’t stop popping pieces in my mouth as I was cutting it to share with Dad’s colleagues.  It is so moist and soft with tons of banana flavor enhanced by peanut butter.  I also made a glaze that is so peanut butter-y and delicious.  The glaze takes the bread over the top, but is totally not necessary, as the bread alone is simply delightful.

I know you want to make this bread and try some Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter, so to enter to win one jar of Crunch Time and one jar of The Bee’s Knees, answer the question: What is your favorite way to eat peanut butter?

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

To earn additional entries:

Follow @piesandplots on Twitter. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Like Pies and Plots on Facebook. Come back and let me know you’ve liked me in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Follow Pies and Plots on Pinterest. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

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Subscribe to Pies and Plots via email using the form at the top of the page on the right hand side. Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

IMPORTANT: This giveaway is open to US residents only.

The giveaway ends Monday, July 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST.

The winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

Disclaimer: I was provided with samples and the giveaway by Peanut Butter & Co., but all opinions, as always, are mine.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

 Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread + Giveaway!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 slices

Ingredients

Bread

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup honey

¾ cup Peanut Butter & Co. Crunch Time

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze

1/3 cup Peanut Butter & Co. The Bee’s Knees

1 tablespoon honey

¼ cup almond milk (regular milk will work too)

Instructions

Make the bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together bananas, sugars, honey, peanut butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out with only a few moist crumbs, rotating halfway through. If at any time the bread begins to get too brown, tent it with foil. I recommend considering tenting after 30 minutes. Allow bread to cool about 10 minutes in pan, before removing from the pan and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, make the glaze. Place peanut butter, honey, and almond milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir to combine ingredients. If the glaze is too thick, add some more milk and microwave again. Pour over the bread, slice, and serve. Bread may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours or in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. Larger pieces will take longer.

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Quinoa Granola

Quinoa Granola

When I was younger, Dad worked full time (he still does – poor Dad!) and Mom worked full time and then part time until retiring a few years ago.  This meant I needed a baby-sitter.  I had one during the school year to drive me back and forth to school and deal with the hustle and bustle and drama that surrounded school.  There wasn’t much time left for fun, though.  However, I look back very fondly on my time with baby-sitters during the summers of my youth.

While the days were often long and began very early, and I’m sure it felt very much like a job to them, I thought it was a blast and hope they did at least some of the time.  It had to be better getting paid to play games and go out to eat instead of stocking shelves or making fast food burgers.  We watched morning TV and chatted to kick off our day, before eating breakfast and planning adventures for the day ahead.

Quinoa Granola

The activities varied depending on my age.  Playing Barbies and board games, painting and dancing to CDs, pretending like we were pop stars.  Those were good times when I was little.  There were spa days and movie days, as Blockbuster rental after Blockbuster rental was popped into the DVD player or perhaps even VCR!  Clearly this was a long time ago!  As I grew older, shopping was my favorite activity, along with eating lunch out.  We occasionally baked, though Mom remembers more epic fails than I do, probably because we left her with the mess (though I really hope we didn’t).  And one summer, we lived in an apartment and my baby-sitter and I walked down to the pool almost every day.  We’d pack a snack or lunch and often found ourselves the only people there.  I’m smiling now just thinking about those days.

It wasn’t perfect.  Sometimes sitters quit and a few had to be fired.  It was a constant struggle for Mom to find someone we all liked and who was responsible enough to do the job well.  I don’t think I had the same sitter two summers in a row.  I stayed in touch with some of them for awhile, but it was hard to maintain contact as they moved through college and onto real life.  They were my friends, my best friends at the time.  I enjoyed their company and learned from them.  I respected them and sometimes miss that bond.  I wonder how they are, what they’re doing, and if they ever think about our time together.  I hope they do and I hope they remember it fondly.

Quinoa Granola

Quinoa Granola

I don’t remember what we usually ate for breakfast.  Maybe cereal?  If I still had sitters, I imagine we’d eat this Quinoa Granola.  I have been really into quinoa for a few months now and have been looking for something new and exciting to do with it.  When I saw this recipe posted on Aida Mollenkamp’s blog, I knew I had to give it a try.  This granola is crunchy, a little chewy, easy to make, not too sweet, and full of flavor.  It’s also vegan and gluten free if you use gluten free oats and swap out the honey for maple syrup.  The addition of quinoa is inspired and I found myself picking out all the cherries and pistachios because they added such great flavor and texture.  This is great eaten out of hand, in a smoothie, or simply with milk.  I ate it all three ways and found different flavors were accentuated depending on how I ate it.  This is a great and versatile recipe that you’ll make again and again.  In fact, I’m out of it and need to get to the kitchen to make some more!

Quinoa Granola

Quinoa Granola

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

3 cups old fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free)

1 cup pecans

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

¾ cup uncooked quinoa (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

½ cup pistachios

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup honey (or maple syrup to keep vegan)

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried tart cherries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, pecans, coconut, quinoa, pistachios, cinnamon, and salt to combine. Add oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir until the dry ingredients are all coated. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Bake the granola 20-25 minutes until fragrant and golden brown. Stir in the dried fruit and spread into an even layer. Allow the granola to cool completely. It should break apart in clumps when cool (love clumpy granola!). Granola may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Aida Mollenkamp

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Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

Cooking and eating at home every single day means I need a really good refrigerator to keep all my fresh produce, dairy, desserts, meats, and fish cold and fresh.  And my refrigerator was getting pretty old, so I was afraid it would go out on me.  I was seriously dreaming about it at night, not fun for a foodie like me, so it was time to buy a new refrigerator.

After some online research and visiting several local stores, I settled on a KitchenAid stainless steel French door refrigerator.  I made this decision for a few reasons.  The refrigerator is gorgeous.  The stainless steel brightens the whole kitchen, plus the handles match those on my KitchenAid double wall ovens and dishwasher.  KitchenAid is also a brand I have had a lot of success with in the kitchen, from those wall ovens and dishwasher to my blender, stand mixer, and hand mixer.  Everywhere you look, there’s KitchenAid in my kitchen.  As a bonus, many of the components of the refrigerator were made in America and it was assembled in America.  I’m always a supporter of made in America goods whenever possible.

KitchenAid Refrigerator

KitchenAid Refrigerator

The door with lined shelves.

It’s not easy to switch refrigerators.  I had three coolers full of food, had cut down what I bought at the store that week, and I still couldn’t save everything!  Luckily, I also bought a stand-alone freezer for the basement, so all of my frozen baked goods (the important stuff) were already in the deep freeze down there.  The refrigerator cooled down super fast, within just a few hours even after having the doors open for awhile cleaning it and putting in all the shelves. 

The shelves in the doors are really nice, as they have a rubber insert that prevents things from moving when I accidentally slam the door.  Oops!  The milk, jams, and even a bottle of champagne don’t slide around at all.  And while it took some time to get organized, the interior is spacious and fits the bounty of produce I buy at the store and farmers’ market.  Speaking of which, when I come home from the store with tons of products that have to be stashed in the refrigerator, sometimes the temperature goes up from having the door open and adding all the room temperature, or even warm food.  But the refrigerator has this Max Cool feature that quickly cools the refrigerator.  This works like a charm and is my absolute favorite feature.  Now I can’t imagine having a refrigerator without it.

KitchenAid Refrigerator

Sweet potato salad leftovers in the refrigerator.

KitchenAid Refrigerator

The freezer already full of baked goods!

It also has a door alarm in case I leave the door open and a humidity control, another feature I’ve already used when there was a little condensation in the refrigerator.  Plus, it has this giant drawer that is suitable for meat, fish, dairy, or produce because the temperature can be adjusted to best suit what’s in it.  It’s also large enough to hold a deli tray in case I’m having a party.

The freezer took a little time to get used to since it’s so deep compared to the freezer in my old side-by-side refrigerator, but now I love it.  It’s tall enough to hold the bowl to my ice cream maker so I can make ice cream at a moment’s notice.  I like that all of the baked goods I keep in this freezer, you know, the ones I want to eat again right away (hello Banana Bread!), can go on one shelf, while the ice cream bowl, frozen bananas for smoothies, and other frozen fruit can go on the other.  I feel so organized!  If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, I highly recommend you check out KitchenAid, as they have a wide variety of options and you’re sure to find one to fit your needs.

Sweet Potato Salad

The refrigerator did a great job of keeping the peas and asparagus in this Sweet Potato Salad very fresh, as well as keeping leftovers totally delicious.  I have wanted to make sweet potato salad for a few years now, and I am so glad I finally got around to it.  This is one of my new favorite light dinners or side dishes.  I am imagining this at a summer picnic or barbecue.  The tender, perfectly cooked sweet potatoes, with extra nutrients from leaving the skin on, are accompanied by blanched fresh English peas (my favorite vegetable right now), local asparagus, and some crunchy Vidalia onion.  The whole salad is dressed with a light vinaigrette, perfect for outdoor functions and keeping healthy all summer long.  Oh, and did I mention this is vegan and gluten free!  This salad needs to make an appearance in your refrigerator too.

Sweet Potato Salad

 Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 main courses, 6 side dishes

Ingredients

2 medium to large sweet potatoes, washed and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 bunch fresh asparagus, stems trimmed, cut in half

1 pound fresh English peas, shelled

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

¼- ½ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt, optional

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more if desired

Instructions

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to allow them room to boil. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once at a boil, cook the potatoes, covered, for about 10 minutes, until fork tender.

While the potatoes boil, blanch the asparagus and peas in a small saucepan, covered, for about 3 minutes. When done, immediately remove from the water and place in a large serving bowl. Place the onion in this bowl as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegars, mustard, honey, pepper, and salt, if using. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste the dressing. Add more vinegar if you prefer it more acidic, or more oil and honey if you prefer it sweeter. The dressing should be on the acidic side, as the sweetness of the potatoes and peas needs a slightly acidic dressing.

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Vanilla Walnut “Shortbread” and Liebster Award

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

Jennifer from Luv What You Do was kind enough to give me for a Liebster Award.  I love reading Jennifer’s blog for all her adventures in fitness and healthy eating.  It is so great to read another blogger’s posts on exercise.  I am always getting healthy ideas and lots of inspiration from Jennifer.  I was absolutely shocked when I received this award, and to be honest I had to do some investigation into what it is.  A Liebster is given to bloggers by other bloggers who like them.  The awarded bloggers then have to share eleven facts about themselves, answer eleven questions from the blogger whom nominated them, share eleven new questions, and nominate eleven bloggers.  I am so honored and excited, so let’s get right to it.

Unflattened Cookies

Eleven Facts About Me

  • I don’t know how to drive a car and I have no interest in learning.  I tried to drive once and felt the car was going to fast when it was idling.  Luckily I have Mom and Dad to drive me places . . . I’ll worry about the future another day.
  • I am obsessed with nail polish.  I have bottle after bottle of it, more than I could ever use.  It makes me feel happy and pretty when I’m down or just at home wearing a track suit.
  • I exercise two hours a day five days a week.  I run for an hour and play Wii Active Life Outdoor Challenge for an hour.  It kicks my butt but makes me feel great and lets me eat all the yummy things I make.
  • If I am at home and awake, my TV is on.  I love watching TV and do so while blogging, baking, writing, eating, reading, sometimes I even leave it on when I sleep.  And there’s even one in my bathroom.
  • I watch almost everything after it has been recorded on my TiVo.  I almost never watch commercials.  I can watch so much more TV!  Yay!
  • I never wear perfume because I’m allergic; however I collect little decorative bottles and display them on a tray in my bedroom.
  • I make a concerted effort to avoid buying things made in China.  My kitchen, closet, house, and life in general are filled with things made in France, Germany, and my favorite, good old America.
  • I never lay out in the sun.  I have fair skin, don’t want to get burned and don’t want skin cancer.  So if I’m spending more than twenty minutes outside I’m carrying an umbrella.
  • I don’t shake hands or fist bump.  I’m germaphobic and don’t want to do something so minor I’ll spend the rest of the day worrying about.  I’ll elbow bump if absolutely necessary.
  • I always wear a small gold and citrine ring that my Granny gave Mom when she was a little girl.  I now also wear one she gave my aunt with an emerald as well.  They remind me of them and make me feel like they are always with me, even if they aren’t.
  • When I am in the house, I always wear Ugg Slippers.  They are so soft and fluffy and keep my feet warm and clean.  I love when I get a new pair as the fur surrounds my toes.  I just wish they lasted longer.  No shoes are ever allowed to be warn in the house.

Unfrozen Cookies

Eleven Questions from Jennifer

  1. What is your astrological sign?  Do you fit the description?

My astrological sign is Aquarius.  I am original, artistic, and inventive, along with being impatient and opinionated.  I am also pretty eccentric, so I would say I surprisingly do fit the description.

2.  What is your favorite winter activity?

My favorite winter activity is staying home and watching TV.  I really do not like winter weather and want desperately to move somewhere warm.  So any activity that allows me to stay home and warm is the best.  I’m a TV addict, so it’s always nice when the fall season starts.

3.  Flats or Heels?

Heels all the way.  If I am outside of the house, I have heels on.  The higher, the better.  The lowest heels I own are 3.5 inches, and the tallest are 6 with a platform.  Shoes are one of my favorite things.

4.  Who was your first kiss?

I still haven’t had my first kiss :(  But it will happen when the time is right.

5.  If you could get rid of one form of social media, what would it be?

Facebook.  I just don’t like Facebook.  It is weird and complicated and not everyone who likes me gets to see my posts and their advertising is funky.  Yeah, not a fan of Facebook.

6.  Last race you participated in?  What race are you doing next?

I have never participated in a race.  While I know I could do one physically, I just don’t know if I have the mental toughness to do it.

7.  What is your favorite gift to give others?

Food.  I’m a foodie and I love sharing great food with others.  If they are close, I love to share the things I make.  But for those far away, I send food from my favorite places, Zingerman’s or Jeni’s Ice Cream, among others.

8.  If you won the lottery, what would be your first purchase?

A house in California and enough hours on a private plane to get there.  I would be happy with that alone forever.

9.  What is your favorite meal?  Breakfast, lunch or Dinner and Why?

Dinner.  It is the meal Mom and I always make together without having to rush around.  It is always different and my favorite way to round out the day.  I also love the foods I eat at dinner – fish, beef, vegetables, fruit, dessert.  And it’s my biggest meal of the day, so as a foodie, it’s bound to be my favorite.

10.  Do your friends, family and coworkers know that you are a blogger?

Anyone who comes into contact with me knows I am a blogger.  If I can have your attention for one moment, I will mention my blog, hand you a business card, and beg you to visit, like me on Facebook, etc.  I want my blog to grow sooooo badly.

11.  What do you like most about blogging and what is the hardest part?

I love that blogging forces me to bake and pushes me out of my comfort zone to do so.  If I’m out of posts, I’m forced to the kitchen to whip up something.  I also don’t want my blog to be filled with boring recipes or the same things everyone else is making, so it’s a blast coming up with different and creative ideas.  The hardest part is growing my blog.  No matter what I do, it just won’t grow.  Please visit and help it grow :)  Taking photos is a very close second.  Sometimes I just want to throw the camera across the room.

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

Eleven New Questions

  1. If you could meet one celebrity who would it be and why?
  2. Where is the best place you have taken a vacation?
  3. What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
  4. What is your favorite TV show?
  5. What is your favorite season – spring, summer, fall, or winter, and why?
  6. What is your favorite thing you have posted on your blog?
  7. What made you start blogging?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. If you could have a superhero power what would it be?
  10. Since I have never been on a first date, what would your ideal first date be like?
  11. Do you have a good luck charm?

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

Eleven Bloggers that Inspire Me

Averie Cooks

The Cooking Actress

Cooking Quidnunc

Crepes of Wrath

Diethood

The Healthy Apple

Julia’s Album

The Messy Baker Blog

The Pancake Princess

The Ruby Red Apron

Sally’s Baking Addiction

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

These are the blogs I read all the time and the bloggers I have come to feel are my friends.  They make this crazy blogging adventure so much more enjoyable, as I look forward to seeing their latest creations day in and day out.  Whenever I need a smile, I look to them and they always provide great content and sometimes a little needed encouragement.

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

On to the recipe.  I wanted to make something quick, easy, and healthy.  That’s right I said healthy.  Aida Mollenkamp tweeted these Vanilla Walnut “Shortbread” Cookies and I knew instantly I had to give them a try.  They are ready in well under an hour, including chilling time.  The flavor and texture are incredible.  Okay, if you gave me a blind taste test, I’m pretty sure I could tell the difference between these and traditional shortbread, but these are a completely addictive guilt free treat.  The honey flavor stands out, which I welcomed, as there aren’t many desserts that really taste like honey.  The texture is fine and sandy, kind of like shortbread.  I also think these could have many variations.  Swap the walnuts for pecans or almonds.  I am also wondering if maple syrup could be used instead of honey to make them vegan in addition to being gluten free.  They can also be raw if you use raw honey.  I did not as it brings more possible health risks than processed honey.  Regardless, whip up a batch of these cookies and eat a couple while visiting my favorite blogs to find some more kitchen inspiration.  I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it.

Vanilla Walnut "Shortbread" and Liebster Award

4.3 from 8 reviews

Vanilla Walnut “Shortbread” and Liebster Award
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 30-60 seconds, until all the ingredients are combined and a dough is formed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and break up the ingredients if they form a ball.
  2. Take a spoonful of dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Place it onto the lined baking sheet. Once all the dough has been formed into balls, press down on each ball to flatten it slightly. I did not flatten them too much, but flatten as much as you like. Place the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes before enjoying. Cookies may be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Shutterbean

 

 

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Caramel Pretzel Bars

The Super Bowl means two things for me: commercials and half time.  I like football.  I like the players and their stories.  The underdog winning when you least expect it.  Learning the stories behind the game.  Hearing about the people that aren’t always at the forefront of publicity.  Having something to cheer for, along with the rest of the country, even when it seems there isn’t anything to be happy about.  I love watching the pregame shows.  I’m a FOX viewer, welcoming Curt, Terry, Howie, Michael, and Jimmy into my home every week during the season, along with my local pregame team.  They make me laugh and teach me something about a game I’m not all that familiar with.  I haven’t missed an episode of Inside the NFL in years, even as it changed hosts and networks.

Other than touchdowns and field goals, first downs and punts, I don’t know much about the game itself at all.  Off sides, holding, pass interference, it’s like another language.  When I’m watching Inside the NFL, I fast forward through the highlight segments.  The game itself kind of bores me.  But at the end of the day it’s about moments of amazing plays and winners and losers.  That fascinates me.  I’ll be the first to cheer for an amazing play.  A zero – zero tie heading into the fourth quarter?  I’ll be in the kitchen.

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Caramel Pretzel Bars

The Super Bowl is the only game I actually sit on the couch and watch.  And truthfully, I don’t really watch it.  I can’t get enough of the day long pre game coverage.  Musical performances before the game excite me.  Then the game comes on and I pick up my latest read or my phone to catch up on blog work and email.  But everything gets set aside when the commercials begin.  In a world where I fast forward through every commercial, this is the one night when I am riveted by them, occasionally rewinding to catch it again.  If I need to pause for any reason, it’s during the game I catch up.

Halftime is the best.  A performer’s best in less than fifteen minutes.  It couldn’t get better with not only Beyonce, but also a Destiny’s Child reunion this year.  I’ve seen Destiny’s Child in concert twice and know almost all their songs.  This should be a halftime show that I’ll remember forever.

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Of course, you need a treat while you watch the game.  Sure, there needs to be savory food, but what’s a football game without dessert?  These Caramel Pretzel Bars instantly struck me as Super Bowl worthy.  A thin, yet firm brown sugar shortbread has amazing texture, some of the best I’ve found in shortbread, along with a mild sweetness.  But the topping of caramel, with its complex flavor, accented by honey, and pretzels make these the ultimate treat.  Crunchy, creamy, smooth, sweet, salty – these bars have everything.  I was really impressed by the components separately as well as together.  I have to say the stand out is the caramel.  It’s so rich and smooth, but somehow the honey flavor is really pronounced, a welcome treat.

Whether you’re watching the game, checking out the commercials, or avoiding the hoopla altogether, these bars are a treat for any day.  They’ll leave you yelling touchdown!

Caramel Pretzel Bars

Caramel Pretzel Bars

4.6 from 12 reviews

Caramel Pretzel Bars
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Filling
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (I love Blis)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 cups small pretzel twists, broken into large pieces (I used Rold Gold)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang to pull the bars out later.
  2. Make the crust. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is crumbly. Press into the pan firmly. Bake for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown around the edges.
  3. While the crust is baking and cooling, make the filling. In a large saucepan over medium or medium-high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the cream and insert a candy thermometer in the pan. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F. Once this happens, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pretzels immediately.
  4. Pour the pretzel-caramel mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly over the crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to cool completely in the pan. When cool, use the parchment to remove the bars from the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Bars may stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Saveur

 

 

Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

The other day Mom asked me what I would say if someone asked me about my Christmas traditions.  Since no one has ever asked me this question, I had never really considered it and brushed the question off with an “I don’t know.”  But then her words got me thinking.  What are my Christmas traditions?  Do I have any at all?  What makes my holidays special?  There has to be something . . . right?

The more I thought and Mom and I talked about it, the more traditions that came to mind.  The amazing display of inside decorations is a pretty good place to start.  Every year I look forward to seeing all my old favorites make their return and new additions get displayed for the first time, as Dad bemoans the fact that we are running out of space.  We turn the decorations on as soon as we get up on Christmas morning and leave them on all day.  The motorized ornaments and singing Hallmark stuffed animals the perfect soundtrack for our festivities.

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums Sugar Plums

Then there’s the fact that we don’t travel for the holiday any longer. My parents are the most important people in my life and I in theirs, so there is simply no better way to spend the day than with each other, avoiding the hassle of travelling and the drama of a huge crowd.  We open presents on Christmas morning, then spend some time investigating them.  Among my treasures is always the annual Swarovski snowflake ornament.  I began collecting them quite a few years ago and hope one day perhaps I can complete the collection with the earlier missing ornaments.  I take Christmas off (okay this year you’ll probably see a couple Tweets from me), not even turning my computer on.

Mom and I always bake something.  I truthfully don’t know what it will be this year, but there is always some yummy treat that fills the kitchen.  And we always have steak.  In a house where Mom and I are always eating fish and Dad rotisserie chicken, it is nice to sit down to a meal of red meat, all of us for once enjoying the same food.  This year we’re thinking filet mignon.  No one cooks filet better than Mom, not even fancy steakhouses.

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

The best part about our traditions is that they evolve with us.  As we change, so do our traditions.  Perhaps the biggest and best tradition of the day is that we just have a good time, whatever that may or may not involve.  As time goes on, I’m sure they will continue to change, but what’s important is that a little thought made me discover all the wonderful traditions around me that make the holidays truly special.  What are your traditions for the holiday season?

Sugar Plums might just be a new Christmas tradition.  These are quite different than anything I’ve made before, but I really enjoyed them.  I have been on a huge dried fruit kick lately, and these take dried fruit to a whole new level.  Tasting kind of like mincemeat, they are soft and chewy with tons of dried fruit, but have added crunch from toasted pecans (they must be toasted) and a coating of granulated sugar.  However, it is the warm spices and heavy hit of fresh orange zest that make Sugar Plums shine.  An easy to make, no bake, super sharable treat that’s light and dare I say healthy, make these a wonderful holiday sweet that I hope can be added to your list of holiday traditions as well.

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

4.6 from 11 reviews

Sugar Plums
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup dried pitted plums
  • ½ cup dried pitted apricots
  • ½ cup dried figs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup confectioners’’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • Granulated sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pecans, plums, apricots, and figs until finely chopped but not combined into a ball.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together honey, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, sugar, and orange zest until mostly combined. Not all of the sugar will be stirred in, but that’s okay.
  3. Pour the fruit and nut mixture into the bowl and mix with a spoon, your hands, or both until fully combined and very sticky.
  4. Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball in your hands. Coat it fully in granulated sugar. Continue to do so until all of the mixture is used. Sugar plums may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Project Cupcake and Alton Brown

 

 

Cherry Almond Granola Bars and Giveaway!

Cherry Almond Granola Bars

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!  Congratulations to Grace for winning the Chinet Bakeware.  Enjoy!

It’s the time of year where you’re baking and cooking all the time.  And all of that means even more dishes.  Dishes?  They’re no fun.  I was introduced to Chinet Bakeware earlier this year and have fallen in love with it.  It’s high quality disposable Bakeware that I love because it means no clean up, and it is the best way to give food to other people.  No waiting to get your dishes back.

I have successfully made Peach Crisp and Plum Cherry Crumble in it, and I use it to set fudge all the time.  I was even a weekly winner in their Bakeware contest.  When Chinet approached me to do a giveaway for you, my wonderful readers, I was super excited.  I know you all could use this for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’m a sweets baker pretty much exclusively, but this Bakeware would be fabulous for dressing, macaroni and cheese, pasta casserole, green bean casserole, mashed regular or sweet potatoes, and so much more.

Unbaked Granola Bars

My only word of caution is that is isn’t the best way to bake something like a cake or bar where you need to make sure it bakes all the way through or the bottom of something gets crispy, as the pan does not conduct or hold heat very well, pretty much cool after only a few minutes out of the oven.  But there are so many things it is great for, I’m so thankful this product is on store shelves and that one of you will get a chance to try it.

First I wanted to make something different with it.  I’ve seen so many homemade granola bars lately that I wanted to put my own spin on them.  I put a few ingredients together quickly, pretty much all healthy, save for a little Biscoff because . . . well . . . it’s Biscoff, and I love Biscoff, mixed them together in one bowl, pressed them into the pan, baked them, and after a little cooling tasted.

Cherry Almond Granola Bars

Baking as much as I do, recipes that I make fit into one of a few categories.  There are those that don’t work out so well (you don’t see those here), those that I like and am happy to have tried but won’t make again, those that I really like and hope to make again one day, and then there are those special recipes that I want to make again tomorrow.  Cherry Almond Granola Bars?  They fit into the last category.  I fell in love with these bars in one taste.  Okay I really fell in love with them raw, when I had to force myself to put most of the dough in the pan, not my mouth.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a granola bar in so long or because I’ve never had a homemade one, but these are so awesome, one of my favorite things I’ve made.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack, it doesn’t matter when you eat these hearty, healthy bars, just make sure you whip up a pan to give a try.  The chewy oats are matched perfectly with the crunchy coconut and almonds.  The tart cherries add great flavor, even the Biscoff comes through in a surprising amount, and the cherry honey intensifies the cherry flavor while keeping things gooey and chewy.  I’m picturing these as a power breakfast before black Friday or Christmas morning for a burst of present opening energy.

Cherry Almond Granola Bars

Let’s talk giveaway.  One winner will receive a full set of Chinet Bakeware.  You’ll get 3 8-inch square pans, 3 large oval 7 by 11 inch pans, 3 small oval 7.25 by 9. 25 inch pans, and 2 9 by 13 inch pans.  I know you’ll love this Bakeware as much as I do.  Good luck!

To enter the giveaway, tell me the first thing you’d make in the Bakeware.

To earn additional entries:

Follow @piesandplots on Twitter.  Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Like Pies and Plots on Facebook.  Come back and let me know you’ve liked me in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Follow Pies and Plots on Pinterest.  Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Follow @piesandplots on Instagram.  Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Subscribe to Pies and Plots via email using the form at the top of the page on the right hand side.  Come back and let me know you’ve followed in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Like Chinet on Facebook. Come back and let me know you’ve liked in an additional and entirely separate comment.

Important:  In order for each of your entries to count, you must leave entirely separate comments.  Meaning it is possible for the first seven comments to all have been left by one person.  If you leave all of this information in one comment, you will only be entered in the giveaway one time.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, November 11, 2012.

The winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on random.org.  The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: Chinet provided the giveaway, but the opinions, as always, are my own.

I also want to tell you all about a recipe contest currently going on.  It is from Tupelo Honey Cafe, which has been in my bookmarks for years as a place I want to visit.  All you have to do it submit your favorite holiday side dish, dessert, or leftover recipe.  I bet you know which category I’m entering ;)  Each week they’re announcing a winner of their cookbook, and at the beginning of December, three people will each win a $200 gift card to their online store or restaurants.  I know you guys have some amazing recipes to submit, and bloggers, you’re eligible too.  I think you and your readers would love this contest, so pass it along.  Head over to Tupelo Honey’s website to take a peak at all the rules and enter.  You only have until November 16th, but that’s plenty of time for all you bakers and chefs out there!

Tupelo Honey Cafe

Disclaimer: Tupelo Honey Cafe approached me about this contest, but the opinions, as always, are my own, and their site really has been in my bookmarks, so it was kind of like fate that they approached me.

Cherry Almond Granola Bars

4.9 from 14 reviews

Cherry Almond Granola Bars and Giveaway!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16 generously
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (I used Quaker)
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (I used McCann’s)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup cherry honey (regular honey would also work)
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries (I used Sun Maid)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup crunchy Biscoff
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with parchment. I used a Chinet Bakeware pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, cherries, salt, coconut, almonds, sugar, and Biscoff. Mix to fully combine and make sure there are no clumps of ingredients. Your hands may be the best tool here.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press it in firmly with your hands. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until lightly golden brown and fragrant.
  4. Allow bars to cool for 30 minutes, then cut into bars, but do not remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before removing the bars from the pan or they will fall apart. May be stored at room temperature for up to one week. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.

 

Peanut Butter Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cravings are sometimes insatiable.  As a baker and foodie who also takes exercise very seriously, I get a lot of food cravings.  King Salmon and Halibut are almost always on my craving list.  I could eat them every single day.  The smell of them baking in the oven makes my mouth water.

But sweets are my thing.  Sometimes pie gets on my mind and won’t get off until crust is rolled, filling made, the smell of baking pie fills the house, and the cooled masterpiece is sliced and served.  More often, I crave cake.  I love soft, moist, sometimes gooey cake, whether it’s filled with fruit or nuts, or coated in a healthy serving of creamy frosting.  Cake is the kind of thing I spend all day thinking about until dessert time comes after dinner.  Donuts, ice cream sandwiches, and anything Momofuku also rank high on the craving meter.

Coating

Cookies are rarely something I crave.  It’s hard to find the perfect cookie to suit my tastes: soft, maybe a little gooey, not brown, huge, clearly no chocolate, and it’s even harder to make them.  I have trouble underbaking cookies just enough to have that perfect cookie texture and prevent browning.  But the other day I got a craving for a peanut butter cookie.  It stuck around for days.  All I could think about was peanut butter cookies.  It was a good thing I had just whipped up some homemade peanut butter and had bookmarked Double Delight Peanut Butter-Honey Cookies from Sugar Plum.  Sugar Plum was the first, and still one of the few, bloggers to welcome me to the baking blog community, so I appreciate that and have thoroughly explored her blog.  These cookies are one of the many things I have been dying to make from the site.

Filling

Unbaked Cookies

They’re not just plain old peanut butter cookies.  No way.  They’re filled with peanut butter, then rolled in sugar, cinnamon, and honey roasted peanuts.  The flavor combination is amazing, satisfying every peanut butter craving cell in my body.  I thought the peanut butter center would be my favorite part, and while I loved it, it was actually the cookie itself that was my favorite, being the best peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had.

Be careful with the coating.  The first few cookies had tons of sugary peanut goodness, but the last few barely got anything.  You could also make extra topping if you want them all fully coated.  Also, when I make these again (and I will be making them again), I am going to bake them at 350 instead of 375 and watch the time more closely.  They weren’t overdone for anyone but me, but I would have preferred they be less brown on the bottom and slightly chewier and softer.

The next time you have a peanut butter craving, check these cookies out.  They’ll satisfy the craving, but the craving will probably come back even more frequently with the exceptional taste of this treat just asking to be made again and again.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

5.0 from 2 reviews

Peanut Butter Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18
 
Ingredients
  • Cookies
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup (or a little more) creamy natural peanut butter, cold (I used homemade)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Filling
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup creamy natural peanut butter, cold (I used homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Coating
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts (I used Planter’s)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (or 350 if you don’t want the cookies to be brown on the bottom). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Make the cookies. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, sugars, and honey until well combined, light, and fluffy. I used a spoon, but a hand or stand mixer would also work. Mix in the vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until fully combined. Put the dough in the refrigerator while making filling and coating.
  2. Make the filling. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, peanut butter, and honey until well combined. Divide mixture into 18 portions and shape into balls. I divided it in 4 sections, got 4 from each section, and left some for 2 more.
  3. Make the coating. In a small bowl, stir together peanuts, sugar, and cinnamon.
  4. Assemble the cookies. Divide the cookie dough into 18 portions in the same way you divided the filling. Flatten 1 piece of dough at a time in the palm of your hand. Place a ball of filling on the dough and wrap the dough around the ball, making sure it completely covers it. Roll the cookie in the coating and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with fingertips.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until the cookies are barely golden brown around the edges and still quite soft to the touch. They may also be slightly cracked. Cool completely on pan or they will break. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Sugar Plum